November 5, 2007

The Islamabad Rockettes


If news is just spectacle, I can understand why WAPO would include this image in their daily photo gallery (#13 out of 21) — of an Indian border guard and a Pakistani Ranger (right) performing a “retreat ceremony” at the border — when the series leads off with a Pakistani plainclothes policeman slamming a lawyer in the head in Lahore.

If it seems a minor thing, it creates a cynical equivalence between the two photos, cheapening and making light of the dire, if hyperkinetic pictures coming out of Pakistan yesterday, in which Pakistani government enforcers were swinging feet and clubs at lawyers and journalists — for real.

As if to doubly (or triply) emphasize this trivialization, take a look at these shots the NYT featured of the Pakistan crackdown.  Notice any similarity with the above?



What is tremendously disturbing, and shamefully unacceptable, is the disconnect (like it’s something new?) between the “testimony” these photos represent and the not-so-hidden evidence of Administration acquiescence.

And then, in failing to connect Musharraf’s suspension of civil rights and Pakistan’s despotic meltdown to the failure of the so-called “War On Terror,” the traditional media reflects its disposition that Washington/Islamabad can get away with near anything — just for kicks.

WAPO photo gallery here.  NYT slideshow hereNYT Day In Pictures (first 5 shots are from Pakistan) here.

(image 1: Narinder Nanu – AFP/Getty Images.  November 4, 2007.  India/Pakistan border.  via  image 2:  Mohsin Raza/Reuters. November 4, 2007.  Lahore, Pakistan.  via  image 3: Narinder Nanu – AFP/Getty Images. via

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Michael Shaw
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